Biodiesel Production from Palm Oil

(De Gruyter) – Biodiesel is a methyl/ethyl ester that can be produced from waste vegetable oils or animal fats.

The authors had previously evaluated transesterification of oils in the production of biodiesels using various reactor types. They had found that microwave heating requires smaller reactors, shorter reaction times, lower alcohol/oil ratios, and subsequent energy savings, the economics of which indicates microwave-assisted biodiesel production is a cost-effective means for producing biodiesel.

In their investigation the authors analyzed the factors that influence microwave-assisted biodiesel production from palm oil. This included microwave power, irradiation time, and reactor pressure. The response surface method was then used to optimize the reaction conditions.

The conversion for the 6:1 methanol/oil molar ratio and 1% catalyst was between 68.4% to 96.71%. The optimized conditions were found to be 138 s of irradiation at 780 W and 7 bar pressure. The conversion at this point was 97.82%. Biodiesel yield increased at higher radiation times (90–130 s) and pressures (5–7 bar).

The authors’ findings suggest that while increased power and longer irradiation times initially drive the reaction toward producing methyl esters, eventually an optimal point is reached, after which reaction efficiency decreases due to reaction reversibility.

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Edited for Content and Length by Dr. Matthew A. Hood.

The  full article can be found at De Gruyter in the journal of Green Processing and Synthesis.

DOI: 10.1515/gps-2017-0116

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